Let's say I am travelling from India to Minneapolis.

Let us also assume that I like Emirates, and prefer flying on it. Let us also assume that I did not get any of the shorter flights to the US east coast, and hence have booked myself on the longer DXB-SFO flight.

Now, on the flight, due to unforeseen circumstances, the pilot announces that we have to refuel and MSP is the refuelling stop.

Can I get off at MSP?

I searched for similar questions, and all I found was: Can I opt to disembark on a stop over (if I am a national of that country) before the second leg of the journey? which deals with a flight that has a known, scheduled stop.

  • 1
    It's a hypothetical question. Jan 20, 2015 at 12:36
  • 3
    probably not because of the luggage not being taken off. However if you're carry-on only...hmm...
    – Mark Mayo
    Jan 20, 2015 at 13:23
  • MSP doesn't seem to be a likely diversion airport for DXB-SFO anyway. Jan 20, 2015 at 14:51
  • 5
    My local bus drivers don't let people off when the bus comes to a halt between stops, never mind airline pilots ;-) Jan 20, 2015 at 15:20
  • 3
    Once I was travelling back from Mauritius to Milan. At the last minute they told us we were going to embark passengers for Rome also and that the plane would stop there then depart for Milan. Many people flying to Milan were actually from Rome and asked to disembark there. They did.
    – algiogia
    Jan 21, 2015 at 14:06

3 Answers 3



At an unplanned refuelling stop, the crew will be focused exclusively on landing, getting fuel on board, and taking off again. There will not be disembarkation services, including no jet bridge, no ramp bus, no barriers set up to guide you to immigration, etc. Unless there is a medical emergency, you're not getting off the plane.

  • Does that apply to the US though? The US has some pretty strict rules about clearing immigration at the first port of entry, no airside transit etc, are you sure none of them affect things in this case?
    – Gagravarr
    Jan 20, 2015 at 13:30
  • 5
    How is an unplanned refueling stop the first port of entry? Are you suggesting the US would take everyone off the plane, do immigration procedures, then put them back on? What if the airport is not an international one? What if the plane was bound not for the US but for Canada? It's hard to imagine such a rule--at least for me. I viewed the question as about what would happen in a near-emergency, not about typical procedures (which do not include "unplanned" refueling). Jan 20, 2015 at 13:32
  • 1
    At least in London Luton, evacuation of the plane must always be possible while the plane is refueled (passenger announcement with easyjet: "please don't close your seat belt while we are refueling"). So they may offer stairs/jet bridge. So if no immigration/passport checks are necessary, you do not have checked luggage, there is a jet bridge, no airport fees would need to be paid by the airline for letting someone off, the airport is staffed, and the flight attendents are nice and confident enough that they can let you off, they may do so. I wouldn't count on it, though.
    – DCTLib
    Jan 20, 2015 at 14:26
  • 1
    In addition to the above comments, the US has pretty strict rules now about what kinds of fines are levied if the plane sits on the tarmac for to long. I can see that coming into play here - with an airline wanting to de-plane the passengers to avoid the fees. Recently I was de-planed on a layover because a part broke and they were going to reschedule everyone, only to have them stuff us back on board the aircraft thirty minutes later when they suddenly found the spare part for the antenna that broke.
    – Mark
    Jan 20, 2015 at 15:37
  • 1
    @HagenvonEitzen Is it? Most routes between Canada and Europe wouldn't go anywhere near the US. Jan 20, 2015 at 21:24

I was on a plane from UK to USA that had to land at an alternate airport in the US due to a medical emergency.

Several people wished to disembark and were told no for several reasons. 1st was the fact that the airport we had landed at was a small regional one and had no immigration, 2nd was that the plane was the wrong size for the facilities available at the airport, and the jetway would not line up. (the medical emergency was taken off the plane in a food service sissor lift) and the 3rd was about luggage not being taken out.


Several Ifs involved here.

If the plane just needs fuel, servicing will be done far away from the terminal building. No one gets off or on.

If the plane pulls up to the terminal and passengers are allowed (or required) to get off, you have the option to not reboard. However:

If the airport is domestic only, airport security will prevent you from leaving the gate area. They can't force you back onboard the airplane, but you will create a lot of trouble for yourself if you stay.

If the airport has an international arrivals area, head that way. You may want to tell the gate staff that you are not reboarding so they don't call you repeatedly over the PA. Immigration does not care how you arrived.

If you have checked bags, the airline will have to open the hold and fish out your bag. They won't like it, and won't be inclined to do you any favours in return.

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